Who am I?
Where am I allowed to be based on my ‘role’ or relationship with you?
Where are we when we are interacting with each other? What part of the environment are we in? Whose environment is it? Is it public? Or is it a private environment?
Appropriateness of touch is also not just about the hands, the feet or closeness, as touch can happen over a distance. We communicate all the time over distances, when we get someones attention from across the other side of the classroom or the other side of the shop by yelling their name.
If we change the concept of touch to attention we add in very different types of touch:
Are you invading my personal space by reading my medical records without my knowledge of who you are and why I am coming to see you?
Are you invading my personal space when you decide to walk into my house and open the fridge and help yourself to my food? You have touched ‘me’ because you have touched my personal belongings and I did not give you permission to. So it is an invasion of privacy through inappropriate personal touch.
I like rolling around on the floor and giggling with you when we play but we know to do this as kids not when we’ve just come out of the bath because we have no clothes on.
I can see that you are wearing clothing covers your upper body private parts from a good angle without revealing anything when I am standing at a distance directly in front of you. But when I come closer I can see that our height difference changes what I can see and I find this inappropriate, or you bend down and don’t seem to pay attention to the way your clothing has now moved. I don’t know where to look without being rude or confrontational because it is inappropriate for me to be seeing this but I was not aware that you were about to move and that the clothing that you were wearing does not protect yourself when you move, hence not protecting me.
When we board the plane I have the window seat but there is someone already sitting in the row so I would need to move past them to get to my seat. They see me coming but only tuck their legs in tighter expecting me to push past them thus touching them and invading both of our personal spaces so that I can get to ‘my’ personal area which is ‘my’ seat. I find it rude appropriately that I have to ask them to move and that I need to call them publicly on their sexual assault because it is inappropriate of them to expect me to be forced to touch them regardless of their personal reason for getting to the seat early.
Is it sexual assault to design a city layout or the layout of a new property development with such small blocks so that windows of houses next to each other overlook into each other? Especially into the bathroom.
What about when we require kids to get dressed in a locker room as a group rather than allowing them to use individual dressing areas or to get dressed within a toilet cubicle so that no one else can see them in their underwear?
What happens if I am used to being in a state of undress around others because of my disability and the amount of time that it takes for ‘others’ to help me get dressed. So I am used to being undressed in front of others. So what happens when others who might be peers ask me for a photograph of myself in a state of undress? I like having friends. Everyone gives me really positive feedback when I have ‘friends’. So if I ‘get’ or ‘have’ a boyfriend or a partner does that make me even better in the eyes of those around me because I have ‘made progress”? I am moving forward away from being dependent on everyone. Because the category is important. Isn’t it?